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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 14:40 GMT
Kuwaiti MP denounces 'dangerous' St Valentine

A nightclub Nightclubs and alcohol are banned in Kuwait


By Middle East correspondent Frank Gardner

A Kuwaiti Islamist MP, Walid al-Tabtabai, has reportedly called for a ban on shops marking St Valentine's Day.

He was quoted in Monday's Arab Times newspaper as saying that St Valentine's Day was dangerous because it was an imported Western ideal that bred illicit relationships between men and women.

In Kuwait, love can bloom even an unpromising environment. In a city where alcohol, mixed parties and nightclubs are banned, young Kuwaitis have embraced the idea of a day that honours the patron saint of love.

Flower shops have been doing a brisk trade in red roses as both men and women celebrate St Valentine's Day. Shopping-malls and hotels are also cashing in on the date as they organise special St Valentine's Day events.



Culture clash

But on Monday, Walid al-Tabtubai was reported to be railing against the practice as being un-Islamic. Mr Al-Tabtubai and other members of Kuwait's Islamist movement are waging a constant campaign to clamp down on any activity they see as immoral.



St Valentine's Day is a dangerous way of importing the Western concept of relations between men and women
Walid al-Tabtubai
This includes Western-style entertainment, cinemas and even non-alcoholic beer, which is drunk in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Their struggle embodies the clash of cultures which has afflicted Kuwait and other Gulf oil states in recent years.

Children are raised to follow a conservative Islamic lifestyle, yet with access to so much oil wealth they are bombarded with Western culture from satellite television to holidays in the West.

Although sex before marriage is still taboo in the Gulf, it is becoming increasingly common. It's something which Mr al-Tabtubai and his colleagues fear St Valentine's Day can only encourage.
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See also:
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